Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Skills Needed to Support the Economic Recovery Plan: Discussion

Dr. Alan Power:

The most topical issue is probably the shortage of HGV drivers. That has been impacted. This is an issue the EGFSN identified as far back as 2015. It has been impacted by Brexit and the recurrence of growth in eastern Europe, with many of the drivers who would have fulfilled those roles have gone back home, as well as the Covid pandemic. The key thing is that we always differentiate between a skills shortage and a labour market shortage. It is not necessarily a shortage of people with the skills necessary to do it. Essentially there are not enough people who want to fulfil these roles. Prevention is vitally important but at the same time it is a tough sell and that feeds into some of the negative stereotypes that exist around transport occupations.

A lot of work needs to be done to professionalise the sector. That is one of the key ambitions of the logistics and supply chain skills group, which is chaired by the Department of Transport and includes industry representation. There have been a number of skills initiatives taken to expand the pool. There has been the traineeship for HGVs which has been delivered by the Irish Road Haulage Association, IRHA, and, importantly, a new commercial drivers apprenticeship programme will come on stream that has been co-ordinated by Freight Transport Association Ireland. They are about the longer term in trying to change perceptions around that role. As it stands, we will be reliant on migration to fill that skills gap. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment recently removed the quota for HGV drivers to try to ameliorate that in the short to medium term.


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